Usability Tip #3: Avoid Banners and Big, Bright, Bold

One of the most basic usability principals on the web is that users quickly learn to avoid banner ads. I like to think of banner ads as page spam. The typical rate at which people open spam email message is less than half of 1%. People realize that the items on the big banners are things that companies are trying to push on them and, most likely, not what they are interested in. So, they learn to avoid them. Also, note that slightly large company named Google has built an incredibly lucrative business around simple blue links with a couple lines of text under them-not big image banners that people may ignore.

What you may not have known, though, is that big, bright, bold text can have the same effect. Check out this article where users were asked to find the population of the US on the Census Bureau’s web site. Even though the answer was right there in big, bold, bright print on the home page, the great majority of users never saw it. Sometimes using a simple blue link or a typical sized black header is far more effective approach than overdoing the display of information visually.

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About Scott

Scott Barnard is the founder of The Usability Review and After earning 2 degrees from MIT, he transplanted to the San Francisco Bay Area where he had a front row seat to the dot com boom and bust and the subsequent growth in importance of web, mobile and desktop application designs to the everyday activities of businesses and consumers alike. Get in touch with Scott if you'd like to hire him to consult on web, mobile app, or desktop application design at
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